In As You Like It, what had prompted Orlando to accept the challenge of an accomplished opponent?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

As the play begins, Orlando and his half brother Oliver have a furious quarrel, and Orlando is dispossessed of his inheritance. Becoming very conscious of his position of deprivation and resentful of his brother, Orlando is now determined to make a name for himself on his own merits. In fact, he plans to wrestle disguised so as to encourage an unbiased match. In addition, as the wrestler Charles comments to Oliver, there is a monetary component: they are wrestling for a prize. Charles makes a joke of it, saying that in beating Orlando, he will “give him his payment.”

Before the match, Orlando meets Rosalind and Celia (act 1, scene 2). As the cousins have just heard how Charles easily and brutally defeated the last opponents, they try to discourage Orland from fighting. They even threaten to have Duke Frederick call off the match. Because Orlando is in such a low spot, he feels that his fortunes can only go up, and even if they do not, others will not be much affected. He has very little left to lose, As he lacks grace, he will not be shamed if he is foiled. Even dying would not be a great loss, he claims, and nobody would mourn him because he has no friends.

[I]f killed, but one dead that is

willing to be so: I shall do my friends no wrong, for I have none

to lament me: the world no injury, for in it I have nothing; only

in the world I fill up a place, which may be better supplied

when I have made it empty.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial